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Brenau hosts Patriotic Pops Concert
Gainesville Symphony Orchestra is featured
Hundreds gather at the Brenau University Amphitheater to listen to the Gainesville Symphony

Fourth of July celebrations
Vogel State Park, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 405 Vogel State Park Road, Blairsville. $5 parking fee. Independence Day at Vogel with bicycle parade, pedal boat races, sand-castle building competition, greased pole climbing.

Laurel Park, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville. Free. Family activities, refreshments for sale, fireworks.

Braselton Park, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., downtown Braselton. Free. Parade, live music, fireworks.

Downtown Demorest, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Free. Parade, street festival, fireworks

Woody Gap School, 7 p.m., 3736 Ga. 60, Suches. Free. Refreshments, music, rubber duck race, fireworks.

Lake Lanier Islands Resort; 9 p.m., 7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford. $8 per car gate fee. Fireworks.
From staff reports

Independence Day celebrations got an early start Sunday evening with the Patriotic Pops Concert at Brenau University Amphitheater.

Lawn chairs and picnic baskets crowded the lawn in front of the Brenau University Amphitheater. Music lovers gathered to enjoy the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra’s annual concert.

“This evening is going to be a wonderful event,” Jim Toopes, vice president for the Board of Directors said.

Retired U.S. Coast Guard Commander Armand Chapeau spent 29 years in the military and says he drove to Gainesville from Athens just for the Patriotic Pops Concert.

“I came last year and I loved it. It’s about America,” Chapeau said.

Rosemary Dodd, a lifelong Gainesville resident, said she comes to every event she possibly can.

“When you live somewhere 76 years and you have a chance to hear an orchestra like you always wanted to when you were a little girl, you come,” Dodd said cheerfully.

The concert is held every year on July 3. This year the Patriotic Pops concert was trying something new. The band Pocket Dreams opened the event with love songs played on a guitar and keyboard, and noted musician Wayde Powell played during the intermission.

“This is the first year we’ve done this,” Toopes said.

“We’re trying to break it up and hopefully attract people between the folk music and the jazz, we’ll hopefully increase the audience.”

The Gainesville Symphony Orchestra played several patriotic compositions and even some popular Disney songs. This year the orchestra was lead by guest conductor Lauren Green. Green will be acting as the musical director for the 2011-2012 season.

The Patriotic Pops Concert is a tradition for many people in the Gainesville area. Families and friends gather at the concert every year to celebrate Independence Day.

“I love it, it’s home and it’s wonderful,” Dodd said.

“This is one of the most exciting things that happens every year, we have our own orchestra play.”